Archive for February 2009

Living in a powder key and giving off sparks

February 28, 2009

Pattern: Armwarmers by Twisted Stitches
Yarn: Patons Stretch Socks (41% cotton, 39% wool, 13% nylon, 7% elastic), Olive colorway
Needles: U.S. 2 nickel Options fixed 47″ circular (two-at-a-time Magic Loop)

I really wanted a pair of long fingerless gloves. Why, I don’t know. The pictures I saw looked so stylish, so elegant. I fell in love with the pattern pictures of these simple, shaped stockingette tubes, irresistibly mottled in floral colors.

A strong variegation would just look like messy, pooling camo without a pattern to break it up, I thought. But maybe this yarn, with its colors muted by a white twist, wouldn’t end up screaming at the world.

I’m still a newbie when it comes to color sense. I can’t picture how a striking yarn in the skein will knit up. I find myself drawn to the oddest things — brights one month, muted earth tones the next, shades of black and white and grey the next. If a variegated colorway works out, it’s not because I pictured it, but because of a happy accident.

And this one worked out. Oh, how wonderfully it did. I could wear these everyday — and since they’ve been finished, I’ve tried.

They’re light as a feather, but warming on a spring day when the wind makes bare arms inadvisable. I can’t deny that wearing them makes me feel like a movie star or a fashion model. Just that little extra flair, that flourish beyond the utilitarian.

Who could have guessed, when I picked up the yarn on a whim at the local big-box crafts store, that its pedestrian pedigree would blossom into something so extravagant?


Crossed my fingers just for luck

February 23, 2009

Pattern: Fish Hat [Dead Or Alive?] by Thelma Egberts
Yarn: Plymouth Encore Worsted (75% acrylic, 25% wool)
Needles: U.S. 7 Harmony wood Options 32″ circulars (Magic Loop style)

See, I was thinking to myself, “Self, is Cady Gray the type of girl who would like to look as though a dead fish were eating her head?”

No question.

When I started stashbusting — and this is my first stashbusting project of 2009 — I couldn’t wait to use up the extra yarn from Cady Gray’s Drive-Thru. And I knew just what I wanted to do with it. Fish hats! The fishier the better.

This free pattern from the latest issue of Knitty has become something of a sensation. And why not? Who doesn’t love fish? Who wouldn’t want to appear to an unsuspecting public as though a sea creature were sucking one’s brains out of one’s head? It’s a universal human desire, as the Greeks understood so well.

I went for a special modification to make this hat Archer-friendly. (Even though this one’s for Cady Gray, Archer needed a little stake in it. The next one’s for him.) The stripes are all Fibonacci numbers, generated by the wonderful Biscuits and Jam Random Stripe Generator. Archer’s smile of secret delight when I read the number of rows in each stripe to him — 1, 1, 3, 2, 8, 2, 3, 13, 8 — was something to treasure.

This fish hat played something of a starring role in my presentation to the ICTE this past weekend. By the time I was done, the message was generally accepted, understood, and celebrated: Let there be fish hats on earth. And let it begin with me.

I’m the last chick standing up against the wall

February 15, 2009


When I start getting organized, watch out.  Anything that’s not nailed down will find a box, a shelf, a folder, or a listing on

At the beginning of this year, I found myself paralyzed by my stash. I had so many beautiful yarns — and so many bewildering choices. Yet I found myself jumping at yarn sales and buying souvenir skeins on my travels. Without a plan for most of what I owned, those gorgeous fibers stayed hidden away in my storage cubes, taunting me from my Ravelry stash listing.

So I joined Stash Knit Down 2009. And after finishing my remaining WIPs from 2008 (FLS, Jasmine, Jaywalker, Diamante) and doing a few high-priority requests (Drive-Thru) I’m finally ready to begin with my own personal project club.

Various Ravelry groups are doing “clubs” from stash. A personal sock club, for instance, is sock yarn packaged up with a pattern, just like you’d get from a mail-order sock club — but in this case, you bag up several combinations and select them at random throughout the year. Folks are doing personal fingerless glove clubs, sweater clubs, scarf clubs, lace clubs — you name it.

I decided to do a personal everything club.

18 “big” projects (defined as anything DK weight or heavier). There are sweaters, scarves, wraps, hats, coats, who-knows-what in here.


43 “small” projects (fingering weight) in three storage cubs. Mostly socks and fingerless gloves, but some were packaged so long ago I’ve completely forgotten; there might even be some heavier-weight single-skein bags in there to be knit into hats. This is mostly where the Stash of Precious Yarns resides — those beautiful skeins that you never find any pattern good enough for. Of all the benefits that this stashdown project promises to deliver, I am happiest about the opportunity to knit from the SPY.


16 “cotton” projects, derived from my ever-growing store of dishcloth and craft cotton.


The box of orphan stash — a couple of SPY skeins that haven’t yet met their match, some novelty destined for swing needle scarves once I find yarns to pair them with — is shrinking.


Oh, I hadn’t put in the leftover dishrag cotton yet. Darn it.


But the plan is ready to go once the current WIPs come off the needles. I’ll let choose the order. My aim is to have a large project and a small project going at all times. Small for portability; large for evenings at home. (When the dishcloths will get knit I have no idea — maybe I should develop a strategy for mixing them in with the large projects, which I anticipate will mostly take less time than the small projects, since there are only a few sweaters in that list.)


Is it all going to get knit this year? Doubtful. But I’m sure going to have fun seeing what comes out next.

Chrome wheeled, fuel-injected and steppin’ out over the line

February 8, 2009

Pattern: Jaywalker (Ravelry link) by Grumperina (9″ size)
Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Stretch Color (70% wool, 23% nylon, 7% polyester), colorway 119
Needles: U.S. 1.5 nickel Options 40″ fixed circulars (two-at-a-time Magic Loop style)

I started this pair of Jaywalkers last October when I was about to go to Denmark for a week. My needs were simple: (1) A sock I could knit at a conference without looking at a pattern. (2) A sock that I was in no danger of finishing during the trip.

Out of my stash I grabbed this venerable self-striping sock yarn. Searching my memory, seems to me like I must have bought it in one of my first few trips to my local yarn store — either that or at its going-out-of-business sale. For the second time around with Jaywalkers (not counting an abortive toe-up effort), I knew I could do it in my sleep.

Plane knitting + conference knitting (at every single session except the opening keynote address, at which I learned my lesson by almost falling asleep) + plane knitting again got me almost to the heel. Then, like many WIPs, it rested until the new year, when I resolved to finish everything I had going before starting anything new.

I made the 9″ size again, because my foot is almost exactly 9″ around (and about 9.25″ long). The annals of the Jaywalker are full of stories of it turning out too small because the chevron pattern pulls in more than most socks, although there are extra stitches to compensate. But neither of mine have been anywhere near too small. If anything, they’re looser than my other socks, although the pattern somehow magically keeps the leg from slouching.

And those aren’t my only FOs for this week. Behold!

Pattern: Basic Pattern for Children’s Mittens by Elizabeth Durand
Yarn: Mystery acrylic worsted inherited from Gretchen, lo these many years ago
Needles: U.S. 7 Harmony wood Options 32″ circular needle (Magic Loop Style)

A couple of weeks ago, when snow was forecast, I made a valiant effort at all-at-one-go mittens for Archer. I pulled out a ball of acrylic that I had gotten from a student who gave me a bunch of yarn and needles when I was just starting. And maybe I could have done it if I had a 40″ cable. I knit my two-at-a-time socks on 40″ circs, but I don’t have any 40″ cables for my interchangeable needles. 32″ is just a tad too small for me to Magic-Loop two mitts or socks with comfort.

So I knit one (except for the thumb) in about 90 minutes, and cast on for the second. But it was clear by that time — less than an hour from any reasonable bedtime — that I wasn’t going to make it to a complete pair. Luckily, the snow didn’t materialize, so I took my own sweet time finishing that second mitt and knitting the thumbs.

I knit the 8-10 year size, but I only did 16 rows after the thumb, because it was almost big enough for me at that point. Kitchenered the tops and thumbs together instead of just pulling them tight.

And now of course it’s 70 degrees, but I still need my photo shoot. (Check out the lower tooth he lost just the evening before!) Never mind — someday they’ll serve him well.

Will you walk with me out on the wire

February 1, 2009

Pattern: Jasmine Fingerless Mitts (Rav link) by Anne Sahakian
Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL (75% superwash wool, 25% polyamide), colorway 108
Needles: U.S. 3 Knit Picks Options 40″ fixed circulars (two-at-a-time Magic Loop)

Way back last summer, when we went to Williamsburg to celebrate my parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary, I started a pair of fingerless mitts. The timing was right in so many ways. The Fingerless Glove Fanatics group on Ravelry was doing this brand-new pattern as their July KAL. The pattern had a modification for a more male-appropriate version, without the faux cabling on the ribbing. And I had a couple of men on my Pay It Forward list who were owed some knitwear.

I didn’t get much past the wrist that summer before other projects took over.  In my zeal for completing all UFOs before embarking on 2009 knits, I picked these back up a week ago and polished them off in short order.  But this yarn, which looked like it might be manly enough in the ball, knit up with a rather wonderful rainbow stripe effect, muted by its colorful twist. Nope, these are great, but they’re a tad on the flamboyant side for the guys I have in mind.

Because the twist creates its own patterning, you can’t see the diamond texture of the mitts as well as intended. But strangely enough, that texture makes the striping seem more rugged and less girlish.  These may not be the right mitts for the man in your life, but they still have plenty of game.  Light enough to wear all day, but not so delicate that you’re afraid of snagging them on a splinter or marring them with a smudge.

Isn’t it great when things don’t come out as planned, but you learn something new along the way?